Albion native Sgt. Calvin Koziol knew since elementary school that he was going to join the Army National Guard, but he never knew that he would win a prestigious national award as a soldier.
Last March, he was asked to participate in the state competition, and then the regional competition.
The 2013 Boone Central graduate and son of John and Rhonda Koziol came out on top for both and won the National Best Warrior Competition.
“Going in, I was just trying to do my best and it was kind of surprising I won the state one," Koziol explained. "And then my confidence kind of was boosted after I had that win. And then going into regionals, it was kind of the same thing.”
Although each competition was different, each had physical fitness tests, first aid, obstacle courses and boards.
For Koziol, the physical fitness came the easiest.
“I am always pretty confident in my physical fitness levels, so I always like those events,” he said.
But the boards, where he had to sit in front of a panel of Sgt. Majors and answer a range of questions, was the most intimidating to him.
“You can study all you want, but you just never know what they are going to throw at you," he said. "So you have to be ready for what every they’ve got.”
The studying and staying fit paid off; Sgt. Calvin Koziol is National Guard Soldier of the Year.
“My next step is to stay in shape and keep studying. I’ve gotten this far and I can’t stop now,” he said.
He will participate in the All-Army Competition this fall.
In the meantime, Sgt. Koziol is home in Albion working on the family farm and painting for the family business (Koziol Painting).
“It’s been a long journey, so its nice to kind of have a break,” he said.
Koziol has a break until early August. Then he will go to Air Assault School.